Lightning Spheres eBook promotion

lightning-spheres-cover

Lightning Spheres will be featured in the kindle countdown deal from February 28th to March 7th on Amazon.com and on Amazon.co.uk

Grab yourself a bargain! The price increases in two stages. The longer you wait, the more it goes up.

This is also available in paperback.

Lightning Spheres is a sci-fi novel about alien abduction for preteens, but could be enjoyed by adults.

Story in brief:-
Eleven year old Jodie struggles to concentrate so disrupts her lessons and has earned the reputation of classroom clown.

Her younger brother suffers severe nightmares that make him ill.

She secretly fears that her brother’s illness is connected to her own night terrors. She dreams that balls of lightning take her to a place where aliens do painful things to her head.

Jodie is terrified the aliens are behind her brother’s illness and fears that she will become ill too. She decides to stay awake to discover more about the weird lightning spheres.

Where do they take her?
What are the Aliens doing to her?
Are her dreams real?
Can she save her brother?
Will she survive?

Excerpt No 5, ‘They Take our Children, Book One, the Truth Revealed.’

Chapter Five: Gavin

Gavin emerged from the bedroom with George. Both men looked weary and Gavin still didn’t understand any more than he had before. Helen had refused to speak. When George and Mary started discussing the New Year’s Eve party that happened so long ago, Helen put her hands over her ears and closed her eyes. When her father mentioned the lights Helen began to rock gently, hunching her shoulders up around her ears. When George mentioned the media attention and all the talk of UFO’s, she began to scream.

Gavin watched as Helen’s body stiffened but she threw him off when he attempted to comfort her. She shouted at them all to leave her alone, then continued to scream, holding her hands over her ears and closing her eyes to shut them out.

Mary held her as she screamed and rocked with her as she quieted. As Helen calmed, she opened her eyes, but didn’t seem to see her husband’s worried face, or her father standing close. Her eyes didn’t seem to focus at all.

Mary began to cry quietly and George explained in hushed tones that he’d seen something similar happen before with Helen and knew it was time to call in the doctor. He told Gavin that this was something they wouldn’t be able to deal with on their own and just as she had when she was fourteen-years-old, Helen would need the help of experts.

Gavin blindly followed his father-in-law across the landing. His mind  filled with the sight of Helen’s vacant eyes and the sound of her heart-rending scream. He was only half aware of Janine standing on the stair, her face contorted by grief and concern. Terry was standing behind his wife, supporting her. George waved them away and shook his head. Terry guided Janine back down the stairs and Gavin followed his father-in-law into Courtney’s room, where they sat side by side on his daughter’s bed.

Gavin looked around at the typical teenager’s room, trying to focus his mind on his missing child to make him forget the image of his wife’s face.

‘I’m sorry, Gavin,’ George finally whispered. ‘I didn’t realise how close to the edge she was.’

‘I think it’s time you told me what this is all about, George. What was all that you were saying about UFO’s and lights in the sky? I didn’t understand any of it.’

‘I know, Gavin. It’s a long story and it’s not an easy one to understand. Helen was such a gutsy lass.’

‘Well you can’t blame me if I say I find that hard to believe, Dad.’ Gavin was intrigued. George seemed to be describing a different person.

‘Of course, that was before the Christmas that changed her life.’ George looked into a photograph of Courtney’s smiling face. ‘She looks so different to her mother doesn’t she?’ He nodded at the picture and Gavin turned to look. ‘But you know,’ he paused and smiled. ‘Our Helen was a lot like Courtney when she was fourteen. Her laughter would greet me when I came home from work. She filled the house with mischief and merriment.’

Gavin didn’t recognise the girl that George was describing and George smiled and nodded. ‘I know, you wouldn’t guess it from knowing her now, would you?’

Gavin shook his head.

‘Our Helen was the last person any one expected to have a nervous breakdown. She just wasn’t the type. The morning we found her on the floor of her room, with that awful empty look in her eyes and the stiffness in her limbs… ’ George swallowed. ‘Well, it was a morning that I’ll never forget. She was like that for months.’

Gavin gasped, ‘Months!’

George nodded again. ‘The doctors told us to put her in one of those hospitals for the disabled but Mary wouldn’t hear of it. We cared for her at home. The specialists kept visiting and eventually, Helen began to get better but she was never the same girl she’d been before. She was much quieter.’

‘What happened, Dad?’ Gavin was impatient to hear the reason behind Helen’s illness, but George didn’t seem to have heard him and continued talking as if Gavin hadn’t spoken.

‘She’d built this barrier around herself. There was a steely edge about her. Nothing could touch her, nothing could hurt her and she shut everyone out. It was as if she decided she didn’t want or need any of us. I felt that she thought we’d let her down in some way.’ George’s shoulders slumped and his lips started quivering.

‘How could she think that? Anyone can see that you worship both your girls.’ Gavin didn’t like to see his father-in-law so upset.

‘She was a child, Gavin. How could a child know that we were as powerless as she was? I still feel guilty for not believing and not understanding, until it was too late to help her.’

Gavin wanted to interrupt and ask what George meant but George continued.

‘She couldn’t wait to leave us. I could see what she was doing. All she had to do was pass a few exams to get a place at a far away university. She spent all her time studying. Always had her head in a book. I should have been proud when she left home and went to Edinburgh University but all I felt was empty. When she wrote to us about the wild parties, the demonstrations and protest walks, I thought she might be getting over it. Then she told us about you.’ He lifted his face and smiled bleakly. ‘And I thought she would be safe at last.’

‘Safe from what?’ Gavin was anxious to know what all this was leading to.

George gazed at a photograph on Courtney’s bedside table, of Gavin and Helen in the early days of their marriage. Gavin wondered now, why he had married Helen. He wondered, not for the first time, why Helen agreed to something that she obviously found distasteful, though Gavin, to his shame did not come to realise how she felt for many years.

Even on the wedding night, as Gavin fumbled under the sheets, desperately trying to make her respond to his gentle caresses, Helen had been cold. She held herself stiffly against him. He had whispered endearments, holding back, trying to be as gentle as possible with her, realising that she was inexperienced. He mistook her gasps of fear for gasps of pleasure and realised far too late that she was afraid of intimacy. He’d suffered mountains of undeserved guilt, for hurting his new wife so deeply.

‘What is it all about, George?’ Gavin wrung his hands in his lap. ‘What happened in there?’ He nodded his head at the room across the landing.

‘Helen has left us for a while,’ George tried to explain as Gavin looked questioningly at him. ‘She’s retreated. Gone inside herself, if you like.’

‘She does that a lot, goes quiet, unresponsive.’ Gavin shook his head slowly. ‘But it’s more than that isn’t it? This is different.’

‘Yes.’ George let out a long breath. ‘I’m sorry, lad. It’s all my fault.’ George stared at his feet. ‘I pushed her too far. She didn’t want to remember.’

‘Remember what?’ Gavin was getting impatient. His daughter was missing and could be anywhere, with goodness knows whom and here they were discussing Helen’s problems. ‘She’s done it again!’ He hissed and shot to his feet.

‘What are you on about, lad?’ George looked confused.

‘Helen!’ Gavin spat the name. ‘She’s even managed to upstage her own daughter’s disappearance. She’s made herself centre of attention again! Well it’s the last time. I’m not standing for any more of this nonsense!’

‘Gavin, wait!’ George reached out and grabbed Gavin’s arm as he moved towards the door. ‘Get your coat, it’s time that me and you went for a walk.’

‘Where to?’ Gavin was reluctant.

‘You’ll see. There’s something I think you should see.’

George led the reluctant Gavin from the house, leaving behind the desolate garden, the soggy paper plates and the dripping, wrinkled balloons as they walked through the summer morning drizzle. They fell into step, side by side in silence, Gavin’s mind was racing ahead, as he tried to imagine what George was about to show him. He looked up as he realised they were heading for George’s house, only streets away from his own.

Silently, he followed George, who walked slowly, looking older and more infirm with each step. He didn’t know what George had to show him but he knew from the old man’s expression that it would be important, that it could be the answer to his life of struggle with Helen and the key to her attitude towards their daughter and to Courtney’s disappearance.

George’s steps grew even slower and Gavin became afraid of what the old man knew and afraid of what he was about to be told.

To be continued…….
If you can’t wait to read the rest, They Take our children, Book one, The Truth Revealed, is available in Amazon.
They Take our Children, Book Two, Taking Control, is also now available.
both are kindle e-Books, and if you don’t have a kindle, you can get the kindle app for phone or ipad here

ENTER THE DRAW FOR A FREE BOOK

Becoming a self publisher has been a difficult journey. An author’s life is a relatively easy one, compared to that of an editor, cover designer, and marketing executive. Each of those roles put new challenges in my path, but the online forums gave me support and help with advice from more experienced Indie publishers.

As my first full length fiction goes to print, I feel apprehensive but elated. The journey from word document to printed paperback has been eventful, but I have learned important lessons that will make the next trip to hard copy much easier.

My first adult paperback is The Scent of Bluebells and is available from Amazon and Createspace among other outlets. It is also available as a kindle eBook from Amazon.
Enter the FREE prize draw at Goodreads below to win one of two FREE paperback editions of this heart warming and emotional story. Entry is open from midnight 6th February until midnight 6th March. Good luck!

THE SCENT OF BLUEBELLS
In spring of 1939, life seems full of promise for the young girl from a northern mill town. War is brewing and for many women like Amy, it would change their lives forever.

Through the following five years of turmoil, Amy endures heartache and loss. Just as she is about to give birth, Jimmy, her husband, is reported missing in action and presumed dead.

After more than a year with no further news of her missing husband, she slowly begins to enjoy freedom and independence like she’d never known before.

The war continues with no news of Jimmy and she dares to love again.

Will this new love survive the war?

Will Jimmy be found?

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Scent of Bluebells by Pearl A. Gardner

The Scent of Bluebells

by Pearl A. Gardner

Giveaway ends March 06, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

World War Two romance novel giveaway!

My Second World War romance, The Scent of Bluebells, is now available in paperback from Amazon, Createspace, and many more retailers.
 Enter the FREE prize draw at Goodreads to win one of two FREE paperback editions of this heart warming and emotional story. Entry is open from midnight 6th February until midnight 6th March. Good luck!

In spring of 1939, life seems full of promise for the young girl from a northern mill town. War is brewing and for many women like Amy, it would change their lives forever.

Through the following five years of turmoil, Amy endures heartache and loss. Just as she is about to give birth, Jimmy, her husband, is reported missing in action and presumed dead.

After more than a year with no further news of her missing husband, she slowly begins to enjoy freedom and independence like she’d never known before.

The war continues with no news of Jimmy and she dares to love again.

Will this new love survive the war?

Will Jimmy be found?

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Scent of Bluebells by Pearl A. Gardner

The Scent of Bluebells

by Pearl A. Gardner

Giveaway ends March 06, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Excerpt No 4, ‘They Take our Children, Book One, the Truth Revealed.’

Chapter Four: (In the past, George / Helen)

In the first few days of January, George spoke with some newspaper reporters who rang the house but after reading what had subsequently been written, he decided not to speak to any more. He had been miss-quoted and reported to have spoken about UFO’s trying to contact the family. Consequently, he was having his leg pulled at the large city department store where he worked. The media coverage was undermining his authority as manager of the electrical department and he determined to put a stop to it.
George discussed it with Mary and they agreed that more than enough people had seen the lights on New Year’s Eve. The press could interview some of the others. The television people had offered the family a lot of money to go to the studio and do a feature on the lights but they agreed that no amount of money could compensate for the turmoil they would have to put up with after the show was screened. It seemed everyone wanted to talk about spacecraft and aliens, when all they’d seen were a bunch of lights. George told Mary it was turning into a circus and he didn’t want his family to be part of the freak show. Mary agreed with him wholeheartedly, especially as the whole situation had started giving the girls nightmares.
Strangely, Helen and Janine both had bad dreams every night for about four nights after seeing the lights. Neither could remember what the dreams were about but they both woke up screaming at the same time, the first night. The girls were very frightened and could barely speak. Both had a slight nosebleed and Janine wet the bed, which was even more worrying.
George didn’t sleep at all after the fourth consecutive night of both girls suffering the strange nightmares. Then they had a few days’ respite with peaceful nights, before it started again a couple of nights ago. Last night was a bad one. Mary and he had spent the early hours with the girls, trying to comfort them before returning to their own bed. He’d then tossed and turned until the alarm clock went off.
‘Maybe you should stay at home today, George. You look awful.’ Mary cuddled into his side and smoothed the deep lines etched into his brow with her fingers.
‘No, they’ll need me at the shop,’ he said determinedly. ‘The sales end today, it’s going to be busy.’ He sighed and made to get out of bed, then turned back to kiss Mary briefly. ‘The girls could do with a day off, though. They were really bad last night.’
‘You’re right, I was thinking of leaving them to sleep. These nightmares are getting worse instead of better.’ Mary watched as George put on his dressing gown and struggled to bend to put on his slippers. ‘I hope this won’t go on much longer.’
‘It’s all this talk of UFO’s.’ George turned to her. ‘It’s filling their heads with little green men. I blame that journalist fellow.’ He stood and scratched his head as he peered around the curtains to look down into the street at the various people already gathered, waiting to fire more questions at him or the neighbours as they emerged from their houses. ‘The Express will be getting a stiff letter of complaint from me. It’s totally unreasonable what they printed. I never said anything about spaceships. I’ll sue, that’s what I’ll do!’
‘Keep your voice down, love, don’t wake the girls,’ Mary called softly as he went into the bathroom.
George stared at his reflection as he started to shave. All this media hype was causing the girls to be upset, he told himself. They’d read it in the papers and seen it on the TV. Everyone was saying that the New Year’s Eve party had been visited by beings from another world. Well he hadn’t seen them! He told the journalist in no uncertain terms and Mary had told the ones who kept ringing up, that there were no aliens! The trouble was that no one wanted to listen, especially as the lights had been seen over the house again.
George had refused to look out of his windows to confirm the sightings. He was angry that everyone seemed overly interested in lights in the sky that could be explained away logically but logic didn’t seem to enter into the mind of the media, it simply was not good copy and it didn’t make good TV. On the other hand, the very word ‘Aliens’ captured the public’s imagination and like a dog with a bone, the media would not let it go. George hoped it would all settle down soon and his family could then get back to normal.
As soon as the local nightclub took responsibility for the laser light display, the street would soon empty of the strangers who were turning up to visit the spot where the lights had been seen. The reporters would soon get tired of listening to the engaged tone when they rang the house. Even the neighbours might start speaking to them again once the media circus moved on.
George thought it was unfair of the neighbours to lay the blame for all the upset on his shoulders. All he did was have a party and most of the neighbours who were now so cross with him had danced at that party. It was hardly George’s fault that journalists’ cars, UFO hunters and Television teams with cameras and microphones blocked the roads outside their houses.
It wasn’t yet a fortnight since they held the party, but already, it felt like months. George hoped it wouldn’t be too long before the lights were seen somewhere else, then the whole sideshow would move from the front of his home to another unsuspecting family unfortunate enough to witness the spectacle. Mary had accused him of being uncharitable to think in those terms, telling him that she didn’t wish this upset on any other family.

Helen’s bedroom window looked over the side entrance to the house, where her father tried unsuccessfully to leave for work without being noticed. He was met as usual by a horde of shouting reporters, eager to catch his voice on tape and snap his photograph for the front pages. Helen groaned. She tried to shut out the racket by putting her head under the pillow. She had been awake for most of the night, stifling her sobs by putting her pillow over her face. Her tears subsided when she had none left to cry, leaving her eyes and throat, dry and raw. She still hurt all over and felt like she’d been pulled apart and stuck back together in the wrong places. When she felt the tightening in her stomach and the wetness between her legs, she threw off the blankets and ran to the bathroom.
Her mum seemed very concerned, especially as Helen hardly ever complained of stomach-ache, even when she normally got her period. This time it had come a week or so early and her mum explained that perhaps that was the reason for the painful cramps. Helen took a pain killer and her mum made up a hot-water bottle for her to cuddle.
She sat watching the television, the water bottle clutched to her tummy. Every time the news came on, she switched channels. She didn’t want to see any of her friends talking about the lights. They’d nearly all been interviewed, their stories getting more unbelievable with every telling. The interviewers put words into their mouths and some of her friends were too dumb or awestruck to contradict the famous personalities who were questioning them.
Helen was tired but didn’t want to go to sleep. She’d forced herself to stay awake last night, so she wouldn’t dream the same recurring, horrible nightmare she’d had since they saw the lights but tiredness eventually overwhelmed her. She didn’t think she’d been asleep very long before she felt herself being dropped onto her bed, soaking wet with sweat and hurting everywhere. The scream didn’t seem to come from her but it brought her dad in his pyjamas to comfort her. He only left when she calmed down enough to convince him that she was all right.
In the early hours of the morning she had given up trying to sleep and tried to remember. The memories were little more than fragments but they had filled her with dread. The fear and an overwhelming feeling of shame had brought tears surging from her eyes. For some reason, she had felt a deep sense of humiliation and helplessness that caused heaving sobs to tear at her chest. She had tried desperately to stifle the noise so as not to disturb her parents.
In the daylight, when she tried to remember what happened before she was dropped onto her bed, her mind was like cotton wool. All she could see was a dark mist and however hard she tried, she couldn’t see past the veil that had dropped over her memory. She shivered, remembering how real the sensations felt as she awoke. She’d never had a dream that left her feeling so awful, so sick and aching everywhere.
When Janine finally came downstairs, she too had started bleeding. She’d only had a few periods and didn’t have them regularly yet, so it was no big surprise but their mum commented at the coincidence. Maybe the dreams had upset their systems. She told the girls that she once read somewhere that stress could cause things like this to happen. ‘Maybe that was why you both had a nosebleed that first night,’ she said as she fussed around them.
The girls looked at each other and shrugged. Whatever caused the bleeding, it was a pain in the neck, or rather the stomach. They lay end to end on the sofa. Each cuddling a hot-water bottle, while the television played quietly in the corner.
‘Can you remember your dream?’ Janine asked her sister cautiously.
‘No,’ Helen said, warily. ‘Can you?’
‘It’s just a fog, you know, like in that Alfred Hitchcock film that was on before Christmas but it was much scarier.’ Janine swallowed. ‘It frightened the life out of me when I woke up though, especially when I dropped onto the bed.’
Helen sat up. ‘Hey, that’s what happens to me!’ She looked intently into Janine’s face and glanced towards the kitchen door to check that their mother couldn’t hear. ‘How far did you fall, do you think?’
Janine’s small teeth worried at her trembling bottom lip and her eyes grew wide as her hand came up to cover her mouth.
‘It’s okay, Janine, I know.’ Helen reached out and grasped her sister’s hand. ‘It happened to me, too.’
‘Did you wake up floating in the air above the bed?’ Janine whispered.
‘Almost touching the ceiling!’ Helen boasted. ‘I thought it was part of the dream but it seemed real enough to me.’
‘And me.’ Janine nodded. ‘Do you think we should tell Mum?’
‘What for?’ Helen knew how concerned her parents were about the sleepless nights. ‘She’d only worry and there’s no point upsetting her more. What could she do anyway?’ Helen sighed and she too began to chew at her bottom lip.
‘What if it keeps happening?’ Janine’s eyes filled with tears. ‘I don’t think I could bear it.’
‘Well we know now that it’s real. That it’s not a dream. Maybe if it does happen again, we could try not to scream. Maybe we could find out what’s holding us up there.’ Helen was curious to know what the disturbed nights were about and hoped Janine wouldn’t be a sissy about helping her to find out.
‘I don’t know if I could do that.’ Janine shuddered. ‘What if it’s something awful?’
‘Well then you could scream!’ Helen teased her. ‘What do you say? Will you look before you scream?’
‘I’ll try, but it might not happen again.’ The frightened girl said hopefully.
‘Let’s hope it doesn’t.’ Helen smiled, trying to reassure her younger sister. ‘But if it does, we’ll be prepared. Agreed?’
‘Agreed.’ Janine nodded and the two girls shook hands.
To be continued…….
If you can’t wait to read the rest, They Take our children, Book one, The Truth Revealed, is available in Amazon.
They Take our Children, Book Two, Taking Control, is also now available.
both are kindle e-Books, and if you don’t have a kindle, you can get the kindle app for phone or ipad here

Excerpt No 3, ‘They Take our Children, Book One, the Truth Revealed.’

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If you can’t wait to read the full novel, it is available in Amazon as a kindle eBook. ‘They Take our Children, Book One, The Truth Revealed’

‘They Take our Children, Book Two, Taking Control,’ is now available from Amazon, also as a kindle eBook.

Chapter Three
The coloured lights reflected onto the flushed excited faces of the girls. Of course, they no longer believed in Santa Claus, but Christmas was still just as exciting without the childish myth. They sat back on their heels admiring their handiwork. They gazed up at the huge tree. Their father had warned them at the garden centre that it would be too big for the living room. He’d chuckled at them and said they’d have to put it in the garden if it didn’t fit in the house.

It did fit, though. The top of the tree, now adorned with the fairy that Helen made at primary school eight years ago, scraped the ceiling. The outer branches, dripping with tinsel and glass baubles, reached out into the centre of the room.

‘Well we know where the tree is going to spend Christmas, now where are we going to live while it takes over our house?’ Their mother asked when she bustled into the room wiping flour from her red hands with the tea cloth tucked around her ample middle. ‘My word but you’ve done a grand job!’ She tilted her head back to admire the full extent of the eight-foot decoration dominating her front room.

The two girls beamed and winked at each other.

‘I saw that!’ Mary looked down her nose from beneath her reading spectacles at her daughters. ‘What are you two cooking up?’

Janine reached under the tree and flicked a switch. The tiny lights began to chase each other round and round, up and down, flashing on and off as they went.

‘Oh my, that’s pretty,’ Mary smiled at her two daughters.

‘Can we have a mince pie, Mum? Please?’ Janine asked.

Helen knew Janine had been putting off asking for as long as she could but the aroma of her mum’s Christmas baking was obviously too tempting.

‘Of course you can, bairn, careful mind, they’ll still be hot!’ Mary called as Janine raced to the kitchen.

‘Mum!’ Helen admonished her mother. ‘You shouldn’t encourage her.’

‘Oh stop fussing, Helen, it’s only puppy fat, she’ll grow out of it.’

‘Like you did, Mum?’ Helen chuckled.

‘Cheeky young madam!’ Mary flicked a corner of the tea cloth in her daughter’s direction and Helen ducked, giggling as her mum waddled back into the kitchen.

The television played in the opposite corner of the room from the Christmas tree. The lunchtime local news programme started and Helen went to switch channels but stopped halfway to the screen. The newsreader was reporting the latest sighting of the strange lights that had been seen in the skies over Yorkshire during the past few weeks. She watched, fascinated, as an amateur film of the strange lights filled the screen. Red and green and blue and yellow dots flashed in patterns, growing larger, then smaller, before chasing each other across the sky, just like their new Christmas tree lights. The commentator was explaining that more lights had been seen in the sky over Todmorden and last night, they’d been seen over Brighouse.

Helen listened as a scientist was interviewed from an observatory somewhere on the North Yorkshire Moors. He talked about electrical storms, naturally occurring magnetic fields and the Northern Lights. Another man went on to explain that the lights could even have something to do with the strange weather patterns caused by Global warming. Helen thought it sounded like waffle. Nobody seemed to know exactly what the lights were. She decided to talk to her father about it when he got home from work, knowing that his theory was likely to be as good as the ones on the Television.

Helen watched the later evening news with her family. The whole country seemed to be talking about the ‘Northern Christmas lights’ in the sky.

‘Most people think it’s just an elaborate hoax,’ her father was explaining to the girls. ‘You know, like the crop circles that appeared in the summer?’

Helen nodded. She had known her father would be able to give a reasonable explanation. ‘What do you think they are, Dad?’ she asked.

‘Well, I know the local authorities have been questioning the owners of that new chain of nightclubs. You know the ones that have the newfangled laser lighting? I think that seems likely to be the cause of all the excitement.’

Mary scoffed. ‘Well, whatever it is, it’ll end up being a seven-day wonder, you mark my words.’

‘It’s already been more than a month since the first sighting, Mum.’ Janine pointed out.

The television was showing footage of some people standing on a hilltop looking up at the night sky.

‘Look at those silly people!’ Mary tut-tutted. ‘Fancy standing around in the freezing cold all night, just on the off-chance of seeing a laser light show.’

Helen watched her father smile indulgently at her mother. She knew there was no telling where the lights would be sighted next and she hoped she would be lucky enough to see them for herself. She watched every night from her bedroom window, but so far the lights had not ventured into the sky above her hometown of Wakefield and she went to sleep each night, disappointed.

A big party was planned for New Year’s Eve, all George and Mary’s friends were coming. Some neighbours had been invited and Janine and Helen’s friends from school. Mary fussed around the house all day, worrying how they would fit everyone into the little three bedroom semi. George spent the day setting up the bar, tinkering in the shed and reassuring Mary that the garden was big enough for the overspill from the house, explaining that he’d told them all to bring their overcoats.

‘You can’t expect folks to stand outside in the freezing cold, George!’ Mary told him as she covered another plate of sandwiches with a clean damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.

‘They’ll be fine with a few glasses of this punch inside them.’ George poured another bottle of dark spirits into the deep-red concoction in the bowl.

‘Steady with that, George, you’ll have them collapsing with alcoholic poisoning, on top of hypothermia!’ Mary admonished him with a twinkle in her eye.

‘Stop fussing, woman!’ George chuckled and shuffled across the kitchen to give his wife a hug. ‘This is going to be a party to remember!’ He planted an affectionate kiss on her smooth forehead.

‘Humph!’ Mary wriggled free of his grasp. ‘That’s if they remember anything with all that booze to fuddle their brains!’ She slapped his hand as he reached for a sausage roll.

‘I only wanted one, to put me on, like.’ He gave her a sheepish look from under lowered eyelids.

‘As if you needed it, you’re hardly starving!’ She giggled and poked a finger at the rounded stomach hanging over his jeans. ‘I think a diet should be on your list of New Year resolutions.’

‘Again?’ George pulled a face. ‘Didn’t I do that last year?’

‘Well you can help our Janine this year.’ Helen grinned at her father. She had been watching her parents fooling and teasing each other. ‘It’ll do you good to lose a few pounds!’

George sighed heavily. ‘Stop ganging up on me, it’s not fair.’

Helen grinned. ‘You know it’s for your own good! Mum could do to lose a few pounds too.’

‘Less of that, young madam.’ Mary winked at Helen. ‘We can’t all be blessed with your good genes. You take after your great grandma; she was always slim as a whippet.’

‘You’ll never have to worry about getting one of these, young lady.’ George took hold of his paunch and wobbled it with both hands.

‘Oh, Dad, that’s disgusting!’

The party was in full swing when George began to organise the fireworks. Helen watched him go into the garden shed and bring out a huge metal box. He called over some of his male friends and together they made a big show of setting the contents of the box in precisely the right places. It seemed hours to Helen and her friends, who were watching and waiting in the freezing night air but when the first rocket went up, it was exactly fifteen minutes to midnight.

George and his friends were like a gang of little boys, whooping and hollering, pushing and shoving to be the next to light one of the fireworks. The smaller children were entranced, with pink faces and noses red from the cold, they cheered every bang and crackle, gasping at the exploding lights filling the frosty night sky.

Other houses in nearby streets had the same idea and joined in sending their rockets skywards to add to the display. It reminded the girls of bonfire night without the fire and stuffed Guy Fawkes. Mary brought out trays filled with mugs of cocoa for the children and steaming coffee for the adults, doing her bit to keep the guests happy and warm and sober.

Soon after the last rocket fell to Earth, the words of Auld Lang Syne began to echo round the garden as they joined hands at midnight to welcome in the New Year. The circle of people jostled together, then pulled apart, holding fingertips, then crashed into the middle again in the traditional dance of Hogmanay. They quieted to listen to the church clock as it began to peel in the New Year and at the first distant chime of midnight, the circle broke and the friends started to hug and kiss each other in the centre of the lawn. Above the shouting and cheering and of people wishing each other, ‘Happy New Year’, a lone voice cried out above the din.

‘Look! Look up there!’

Helen looked with everyone else, as all eyes were drawn to the stiffly pointing finger. Heads turned upwards and mouths fell silently open.

Dotted among the stars, hung brighter balls of light. Soft edged, mellow, gleaming tennis balls of colour. They hovered, gently bobbing to an unheard rhythm, the blue ones forming an outer circle, while the red and yellow and orange ones slowly travelled to the centre and out again. The lights were performing their own version of the dance the party revellers had so recently abandoned. Faster and faster they moved, performing intricate patterns, looking like a child’s kaleidoscope in the sky.

People in the garden continued to stare open-mouthed. Helen reached out her hand, with her eyes still fixed on the spectacle above. She groped in the dark to find contact with her father, needing the familiar reassuring touch of reality. Puzzled faces appeared at neighbouring windows, wondering at the sudden silence. Neighbours began to wander from their homes into the streets in their dressing gowns, with heads tilted backward, staring at the phenomena. The display continued for ten or fifteen minutes, during which time all conversation ceased, except for a few inane utterances. Most people were struck dumb by the spectacle.

Then the lights began to wobble, as if the night sky had become liquid. Gradually, they dissipated, seeming to melt and dissolve into the heavens, leaving only the distant stars and street lamps to light the darkness.

The street erupted with a babble of voices and neighbours in nightclothes ran to join the group in George and Mary’s garden.

‘Dad, what were they?’ Helen clutched her father’s hand tightly as people began to crush into the garden.

‘I don’t know, my love.’ Her father put his arm around her and steered her into the house. Helen allowed him to lead her through the throng of bodies. She heard snippets of conversation as she passed through the crowd. Most were amazed at the experience. Some seemed shocked and subdued. Others were openly admitting they were afraid.

Gradually, the party moved inside, bodies cramming together in every room. Neighbours in pyjamas sat comfortably with elegantly dressed party folk, discussing and debating long into the night. Children fell asleep in parents’ arms and teenagers listened with eyes wide.

Helen sat in a corner on the floor with Janine, close to their father and both girls listened intently to the conversations ebbing and flowing around them. What they heard frightened and intrigued them. Their father explained his theory, that the lights were some type of laser display and he blamed the all-night disco in town. Some neighbours said they’d heard the theory about electrical disturbances in the frosty atmosphere. One or two mentioned spaceships, but they were laughed at.

‘Why would aliens want to spend New Year in Wakefield?’ One man quipped, causing more laughter among the group of friends.

The New Year was a few hours old when the first of the guests began to leave, carrying sleeping children wrapped in coats. When Helen finally went up to her bed, she told Janine that they would never forget this New Year’s Eve and Janine agreed that it had certainly been a party to remember.

To be continued……..

My self publishing journey

I’m enjoying being a self publisher, but finding it harder than I ever expected. It has been a steep learning curve, and I’m still climbing!

I’m disappointed that I can’t devote as much time to the actual writing because I also take charge of editing, cover design, publishing and marketing. Fortunately I have great motivation, and the drive and ambition to keep me functioning in all these directions to get the job done. I’m looking forward to the day when all my worthy works are in print, and I can settle to concentrate on the next new project.

The rewards are starting to come through, though, and with each new sale, good review or new follower on any number of social network sites, I feel elated. I may never be a millionaire, but I thank the stars that I’m rich in health and happiness. Having lots of money in the bank has always been a secondary goal, though still a target I would like to reach.

As my first full length fiction goes to print, I feel a great sense of satisfaction. The journey from computer file to paperback has not been easy, but I have learned some important lessons along the way, and feel I have grown spiritually throughout the process.

My first adult paperback is The Scent of Bluebells and is available from Amazon and Createspace among other outlets. It is also available as a kindle eBook from Amazon. From midnight 6th February to midnight 6th March 2014 I am offering two FREE copies of the paperback.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Scent of Bluebells by Pearl A. Gardner

The Scent of Bluebells

by Pearl A. Gardner

Giveaway ends March 06, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win